Origins of Cancer 2016

Grand Rapids MI

Jul 22, 2016

Origins of Cancer is a one-day symposium that brings together scientists and medical professionals from around the country to discuss the latest cancer research. The 2016 theme is Exploring Tumor Complexity, which will highlight research on metastases, tumor evolution and transcription.

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Christine A. Iacobuzio-Donahue

Attending Physician, Department of Pathology; Director, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Medical Donation Program; Director, Cancer Genomics for CPCR; Affiliate Member, Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Bio: Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue obtained a B.S. in Biology from Adelphi University and both her M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Boston University School of Medicine. Upon graduation, she moved to Baltimore where she completed a residency in Anatomic Pathology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, the final year of which she served as one of two appointed Chief Residents. Her training also includes a postdoctoral research fellowship in Gastrointestinal Oncology and a Gastrointestinal/Liver Clinical Pathology fellowship, both at Johns Hopkins. After achieving promotion to Full Professor of Pathology, Oncology and Surgery at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, in 2014 she moved to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, NY where she serves as an Attending Physician in Pathology, Associate Director of Translational Research for the David M. Rubenstein Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, and Director of the MSK Rapid Autopsy Program. The majority of her time is devoted to leading an NIH funded laboratory focused upon the genetics and evolutionary dynamics of clonal evolution in human tumors with a particular focus on pancreatic cancer for which she is internationally known.

Dana Pe'er

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Systems Biology , Columbia University

Bio: Dana Pe’er is computational biologist that uses her mathematical training to find patterns and underlying biological principles by modeling high throughput biological data. In particular, Dana is a world leader in the analysis and interpretation of high dimensional single cell data. Dana’s methodologies take two key directions (1) Using topological analysis to map the phenotypic landscape, identifying subpopulations and the transitions between them. (2) Using statistical dependencies between single cell measurements to infer regulatory circuits and their derailment in disease. Dana is recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award, NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, NSF CAREER award, Stand Up To Cancer Innovative Research Grant, Packard Fellow in Science and Engineering, Overton award and NIH Director’s Pioneer award.

David Langenau

Director, Molecular Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital

Bio: Dr. Langenau is an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and is joint-appointed through the Department of Pathology, the Cancer Center and the Center for Regenerative Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Langenau is also a principal faculty member at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) and a member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. Dr. Langenau runs an active research group that focuses on uncovering mechanisms of progression and relapse in pediatric cancer. He has become a pioneer in using zebrafish to understand human cancer biology. His group has used the zebrafish model to dynamically visualize the hallmarks of cancer in live animals, to develop drug screening approaches to kill relapse-driving tumor propagating cells, and to uncover oncogenic drivers conserved in zebrafish and humans using bioinformatic approaches and cross-species comparisons. His work has credentialed the zebrafish as a novel discovery tool and provided unique insights into human cancer.

Dylan Taatjes

Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado at Boulder

Bio: Dr. Taatjes was born in Grand Rapids, MI and grew up in nearby Hudsonville, MI. He studied chemistry as an undergraduate at Calvin College and got his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in the lab of Dr. Tad Koch. As a Ph.D. student, Dr. Taatjes delineated the mechanism of action of the anti-tumor drugs doxorubicin and daunorubicin and designed and synthesized derivatives of these compounds that were active against resistant cancer cells. During this time, he began to study cancer biology and became fascinated with the mechanisms of transcription regulation. Upon obtaining his Ph.D., he decided to transition away from chemistry and studied molecular and structural biology during his postdoctoral studies with Dr. Robert Tjian at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Taatjes is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His research interests include the regulation of gene expression, with a focus on the human Mediator complex.

Emily Bernstein

Associate professor, Department of Oncological Sciences and Dermatology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Bio: Dr. Bernstein is an Associate Professor of Oncological Sciences and Dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. She performed her thesis research in the laboratory of Dr. Gregory Hannon at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory with a Ph.D. from Stony Brook University. Dr. Bernstein completed her postdoctoral studies with Dr. David Allis at The Rockefeller University. She has made important scientific contributions to various areas of biology during her career, including understanding the mechanisms underlying RNA interference and chromatin regulation, and more recently, how the latter can impact on disease. Her laboratory studies epigenetic mechanisms underlying stem cell biology and reprogramming, and cancer initiation and progression with a focus on malignant melanoma.

Nicholas Navin

Associate Professor, Department of Genetics and Department of Bioinformatics, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Bio: Dr. Nicholas Navin is an associate professor at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. He completed his Ph.D. at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory through a joint program with Stony Brook University, where he developed the first single cell DNA sequencing method (Navin et al. 2011, Nature). This method (and work by others) established the field of single cell genomics, which has shown tremendous growth over the last five years. The Navin laboratory continues to pioneer the development of single cell DNA sequencing methods, and use these methods to study intratumor heterogeneity in the context of complex biological processes in human cancers. The research focus areas include studying tumor initation, invasion in early stage cancer, metastatic dissemination and therapy resistance. The Navin laboratory combines expertise in computational and experimental biology to study cancer biology, with a strong focus on breast cancer research. His laboratory is also involved in clinical studies that aim to translate single cell sequencing technologies into the clinic to improve diagnostics, early detection and targeted therapy for cancer patients. Dr. Navin has received a number of prestigious awards including the Damon-Runyon Innovator Award, AAAS Wachtel Award, ACS Scholar Award and Wilson Stone Award.

Rani E. George

Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School

Bio: Dr Rani George is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Co-Director of the Pediatric Solid Tumor Program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital. A major focus of her laboratory is identifying molecular targets in cancer cells that can be translated into novel therapies with emphasis on the pediatric solid tumor neuroblastoma. She led the studies that led to the discovery of activating mutations in the ALK tyrosine kinase in neuroblastoma, which have led to trials of ALK inhibitors in clinical trials. She has demonstrated that ALK cooperates with MYCN to accelerate neuroblastoma tumorigenesis through activation of downstream signaling and that combined inhibition of ALK and signaling nodes shared by both oncogenes leads to tumor regression, offering a novel therapeutic strategy for patients with ALK/MYCN positive tumors. She also studies the transcriptional regulation of deregulated MYCN/MYC in neuroblastoma. Her laboratory recently identified a therapeutic strategy to inhibit the oncogenic effects of amplified MYCN – by targeting large enhancer complexes through inhibition of CDK7 – leading to selective effects on tumor cells without toxicity to normal cells.

Sophia Lunt

Assistant Professor, Michigan State University

Bio: Dr. Sophia Lunt is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Michigan State University. She completed her Ph.D. at Princeton University, where she uncovered the metabolic consequences of the anti-metabolite drug trimethoprim (published in Nature Chemical Biology). As a postdoctoral fellow at MIT, she was awarded the DoD CDMRP PRCRP Visionary Postdoctoral Fellowship to investigate the role of specific pyruvate kinase isoform expression in cancer (published in Molecular Cell). Her laboratory at Michigan State University focuses on understanding the role of metabolism in supporting cancer proliferation, heterogeneity, and metastasis. Her team combines powerful mass spectrometry, cell biology, and genetic models of cancer to investigate metabolic regulation in this complex disease. Dr. Lunt aims to rationally design more effective, personalized therapies for cancer based on metabolic targeting. Dr. Lunt has received a number of awards including the DoD Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) Breakthrough Award and the AACR-Incyte NextGen Grant for Transformative Cancer Research.

Susan M. Rosenberg

Ben F. Love Chair in Cancer Research; Professor, Molecular and Human Genetics; Leader, Cancer Evolvability Program, Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine

Bio: Susan Rosenberg is a molecular biologist and geneticist whose PhD with Frank Stahl (U. Oregon) and postdoctoral work with Miroslav Radman (Paris) concerned DNA recombination in E. coli. Initially on the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, then at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, working in E. coli, her lab demonstrated and elaborated molecular mechanisms of mutagenesis activated by stress responses. These increase genetic diversity, potentially accelerating evolution, specifically when cells are poorly adapted to their environments. Her lab also studies mechanisms of DNA repair and genome instability. Her demonstration that mutagenesis is regulated changes understanding of genomic plasticity, host-pathogen adaptation, antibiotic resistance, cancer development and evolution. Rosenberg founded the Gordon Research Conference on Molecular Mechanisms in Evolution, which addresses molecular mechanisms that influence how evolution works, and their roles in cancer, infectious disease and basic biology. Rosenberg is a fellow (elected), and council delegate (elected, 2016-2019) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow (elected) of the American Academy of Microbiology, and member of the Senior Editorial Boards of SCIENCE and PLoS Genetics. She has received an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, the Biosphere and Humanity Medal (Russian Academy of Medicine), the Eli Lilly National Cancer Institute of Canada William Rawls Prize, the Young Scientist Award of the Genetics Society of Canada, and Michael E DeBakey MD Award for Excellence in Research.

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